Forsyth Brewery Gives Downtown a Boost
Serendipity Creates a Community Destination in Fox City Brewing Company - as featured in the 2023 issue of Our Story
The story behind the establishment of Fox City Brewing Co. in Forsyth is unique and a great example of a serendipitous venture making a positive impact within the community. Owner and managing partner George Emami didn’t intend to get into the brewery business when he listed the building as a realtor in 2019, but as doors opened and possibilities started to bubble up, he found himself staring at an opportunity that was hard to ignore.
A successful real estate entrepreneur, George was managing The Brokery when he took the listing for the building which is now the home of Fox City. During that time, an individual from outside of the area approached the City of Forsyth and expressed interest in opening a brewery downtown on the square. Their research indicated that the community would be a good fit, but in the end, they decided not to pursue the opportunity. George, however, fell in love with the idea.
“I’d acquired a taste for craft beer and really enjoyed the brewery vibe. In fact, when we traveled, I found myself in search of a brewery,” George said. “It’s a happy place with a comfortable, relaxing, family-oriented environment. It’s an easy place to strike up a conversation and share a great meal. I didn’t know the first thing about starting a brewery, but I knew I wanted to do that here in Forsyth.”
George started putting out feelers and searching for potential partners. He turned to social media and for fun, mentioned he was searching for someone with brewing experience in the area who might be interested in a new venture. He connected with local home brewing legend Bob Zellner, added a couple of family investors to the mix and set out to purchase and renovate the building, which was formally a cotton gin, an icehouse and most recently a manufacturing plant for yarn and string.
“We purchased the 16,000 square foot building and bought the entire city block across the street,” he said. “Together we demoed, cleaned, paved, fixed up a nearby house and created a parking area to transform this section of downtown. Since then, some of the other buildings in the area have experienced 30-40 percent growth in value, which really says something.”
There were more challenges ahead. The renovation work was complete right around the time that COVID-19 hit in 2020. George and his partners faced the difficult decision of opening despite the circumstances or just sitting on their new investment and waiting an undetermined amount of time to open, post pandemic.
They took a chance and opened the doors of Fox City on July 4, 2020 with an abundance of protocols in place to keep patrons safe.
“It was a scary decision to push forward, but I’m glad we did,” said George. “We had to work harder and remain regimented in our policies, but we could see beyond the pandemic, and we were ready to get this off the ground.”
Their courage and vision rendered success. George and his partners have taken great care to ensure that Fox City remains a brewery and not a bar. With a ‘come as you are’ atmosphere, patrons range from families coming from the ball field, to fathers and daughters dressed up for dances, to casual groups looking for a fun place to share time together. There’s something for everyone on the menu, and it’s currently one of the highest grossing restaurants in Monroe County.
Though Bob Zellner is still considered the “Brew Godfather,” Fox City now has an award-winning brew master, Chris Bump, who brings a great deal of commercial brewing experience to the local establishment. He has even adopted an eco-friendly method for brewing beer using recycled water.
“This purified water is amazing for making beer because it has been treated with reverse osmosis, which removes pretty much all dissolved matters. It leaves a very pure taste to the water and allows us to use our craftmanship to build the beer with a much better accuracy every time,” said Bump.
The United Bank team in Forsyth has had the privilege of partnering with Fox City and watching the brewery turn into a local favorite and a destination for visitors from surrounding counties.
“I see Tony Ussery, Cole Davis and everyone else in United Bank's Forsyth office as business partners,” said George. “I rely on their expertise and knowledge. The Bank played a huge role in helping us unlock the hidden value behind Fox City. I anticipate United Bank being a part of our future ventures as well. There’s just no replacement for a bank that has its finger on the pulse and a shared vision for growth in the communities we serve. It’s priceless.”
Pictured above: Tony Ussery, Bob Zellner, George Emami and Cole Davis
In late 2022, George rebranded his real estate business under the name Prime Point Ventures with a mission to guide seamless real estate journeys that cultivate community and joyful, lifelong relationships. Fox City is the perfect example of this mission and vision in Monroe County. United Bank thanks George and his partners for allowing us to be part of the journey.